Perhaps the best place to begin before we talk about a pregnancy week by week is an overview of the full pregnancy. This beautiful process lasts for 40 weeks in human beings. You may have commonly heard that the human gestation period is 9 months, but if you take a closer look, if we assume each month lasts 4 weeks then that’s only 36 weeks, right? Well, that would be true if each month had 28 days. However, most months have more than 28 days, and they tend to alternate between 30 and 31 days. If you add that up, a 9 month period is approximately equal to 40 weeks. However, because mothers get pregnant at different times of the year, the most accurate way to express the duration of a pregnancy is in weeks, and not months.
That said, it takes 40 weeks for a human baby to develop properly and we like to divide that period into 3 segments. Each of these segments is roughly 12 weeks, or 3 months long.
The process is beautiful. The miracle of life is one that you can never really exaggerate. In the first trimester, the baby is still developing from that first clump of cells that formed at conception. By the end of that trimester, it just begins to look like something you might recognize as human. The first trimester lasts from week 1 through week 12.
During the second trimester, the baby looks a lot more human and has developed distinct features that you can recognize in an ultrasound. The baby also begins to suck its thumb during this trimester. Even the eyes can open and close now. This is by far the longest trimester, lasting from week 13 through week 28. That’s 16 weeks!
The 3rd trimester is not only the last one but also the shortest one. This trimmest only lasts 11 weeks from week 29 through 30. The baby is fully developed by the end of this trimester. It’s also the most important trimester in which the baby’s lungs need to develop to be strong enough to handle breathing. The baby should also grow and add weight in this trimester in order to be healthy.
That’s pretty much a summary of the three trimesters. But let’s not leave it at that. Let’s take a closer look at each of them and see if we can learn some more.
Certain things will have happened by the end of this trimester, and they will indicate that your baby is growing healthily. Note that they are in chronological order:
1. Your baby will be a maximum of 10 centimeters by the end of the trimester. The range is between 7 cm and 10 cm, which translates to between 3 inches and 4 inches. The baby should also be pretty light at the end of this stage, weighing roughly 28 grams, or just 1 ounce.
2. The baby’s heart begins beating in the first trimester, and you should be able to hear it with a heart monitor.
3. The baby’s nose, ears, and eyes start forming during this stage. It won’t be able to open its eyes, though.
4. The baby’s toes, fingers, legs, and arms start forming
5. The baby’s toenails and fingernails start forming
6. The arms and legs begin to move after they are completely formed. Don’t wait to feel the kicks just yet, though; you won’t feel them at this stage.
7. The bones begin forming. Yes, that’s right: they form after the arms and the legs, not before.
8. The brain grows pretty rapidly as the trimester continues
9. The spine forms after the bones
10. The face continues to form around the eyes and nose, but the eyes remain closed.
11. The digestive tract begins to form
12. The baby slowly starts to look like a real human being.
13. Eventually, you will be able to tell the sex of your baby by the end of the trimester after a majority of the features and organs have formed.
You will notice some wild mood swings during this period. You might be feeling like you’re on top of the world for a while, and then want to crawl into your bedsheets and shut out the whole world all of a sudden. Don’t worry about this; it is as a result of the hormonal changes in your body that are brought about by being pregnant.
The best thing to do in this case is to talk to your family, close friends, and family about your feelings. They will definitely be understanding and accommodate your mood swings. If the mood swings don’t go away, then contact your health care provider.
Morning sickness is quite common at the start of your pregnancy. You will feel sick and nauseous. While it’s a terrible feeling indeed, it will stop by the time you get to your fourth month, at the end of your first trimester. It may be called morning sickness, but it can persist throughout the day.
When morning sickness begins, there are a few things you can do to make it better. For starters, taking crackers or dry toast in the morning before you get out of bed helps. You also shouldn’t hurry the process of getting out of bed and do it slowly. Don’t wait to feel hungry to eat. Instead, eat small amounts of food every two hours and avoid fatty, fried, or spicy foods as they simply make it worse. Drink plenty of fluids with and between your meals. If the vomiting continues beyond the fourth month, talk to your healthcare provider.
You will begin to pass urine much more often. This is because the enlarged uterus is pressing hard against your bladder and there are changes in your hormone, making it harder to control your bladder.
In order to reduce the amount of urine you pass in this manner, drink fewer fluids in the evening before you go to bed. You should also try Kegel exercises. These exercises strengthen the muscles at the base of your pelvis and give you more control over your bladder. Kegels are fairly easy to perform. Tighten the muscles surrounding your anus and vagina and hold them there for a few seconds. These are the muscles that you use when urinating. 25 kegels a day every day will strengthen your muscles going forward. You should also ensure you fully empty your bladder every time you go to pee.
You will start to feel tired and lethargic more often. This is one of those things you will just have to get used to. It is part of the journey. Rest as much as you can and eat small amounts of food frequently, rather than large amounts that are spread out. Make sure you drink lots of fluids and do less work. If someone offers help, accept it. It merely means they can see what you’re going through and would like to be there for you. You should also be willing to ask for help when you need it. The bulk of this help should be coming from your partner since they are likely to be the one to spend most of their time with you. It will definitely help the two of you to bond.
During this time, you may notice a milky fluid being secreted by your vagina. This is part of the process of the uterus preparing for childbearing and is perfectly normal. You can deal with it by wearing panty liners and changing your panties or other underwear as often as you can. Make sure to keep your vagina clean and dry at all times to avoid infection.
When taking a bath, avoid douching at all costs. This is the practice of spraying your vagina with water or any other kind of fluid to force it in. You may think you’re cleaning it, but what you’re actually doing is disrupting the delicate pH balance in the vagina, and that may lead to an infection. You should also call your health care provider if the fluid makes you feel itchy or smells bad.
You may notice your breasts growing larger during this period. Don’t panic. This is to prepare your breasts for the breastfeeding process after the baby is born. All you have to do is wear a bra that gives your breasts good support and also e=wear a bra at night if you feel uncomfortable braless.
You may sometimes feel like you’re going to faint. This comes along with the sick feeling you get. The reason is that your body and that of your baby are making some large demands on your blood system. All you have to do is be a little slower in your movement. Get up slowly and change positions slowly.
You may feel like your interest in having sex with your partner is reducing. This can extend to other activities as well and is brought about as a result of feeling sick and tired. Make sure you talk to your partner so that they understand and give you all the support you need during this period. You can also talk to some close friends if it helps.
This is a good time to take some important steps toward getting healthy for your baby and yourself. Here are some steps you and your partner can take:
This is the longest trimester by far. It is also one of the most exciting ones and the time when you begin to feel really close to the baby. Here are some of the things that will have happened by the end of the trimester.
1. By the end of this trimester, your baby will weigh a kilogram, or roughly two pounds. They will be 36 cm in length, which translate to about 14 inches.
2. The eyes will be able to open, and the eyelashes and eyebrows will begin to appear.
3. The heartbeat is the strongest at this point, and your health care provider will be able to hear it.
4. You will be able to feel your baby moving. This when those kicks start to occur. Your baby will suck their thumbs a lot during this stage and may even hiccup a few times.
5. The teeth will begin to develop, but only inside the gums. They won’t appear until much later after the baby is born.
6. Some hair will begin to grow on the baby’s body. It will be fine and soft.
7. Your baby’s body will begin to be covered by a white coating called a vernix.
Your gums will begin to bleed much more easily during this stage. That is normal as they get tender in the second trimester. You should ensure you brush your teeth and floss every day. You should also make a point of going to the dentist at least once in the course of your pregnancy and inform them that you are pregnant.
You will experience lower back pain in the second trimester as your tummy grows larger and takes its tolls on your loose joints. Don’t worry about it; it’s just because your tummy is getting heavier.
There is a variety of things you can do to ease the situation. For starters, you can pull in your buttocks and stomach to flatten your back and avoid high heeled shoes. Do not stand too long and try to maintain a correct posture at all times, especially when you’re lifting and carrying objects. If you can get it, and you enjoy it, get a massage. You should also do some stretching exercises.
If you experience dry and hard bowel movements during your pregnancy, then that is constipation that you have. Don’t panic. It is caused by your constantly changing hormones and the pressure exerted by the baby on your bowels.
To deal with this, make sure you drink plenty of water in the course of your day. 8 glasses at the very minimum. Also, eat foods with a lot of fiber. These are whole grain foods like prunes, bran, whole grain bread, and so on. Walk and swim as often as you can and tell your healthcare provider about your condition.
If you notice your ankles getting swollen, this is because you have a lot of extra fluid in your body and slower blood circulation. The fluids and blood tend to collect around your ankles due to the force of gravity. You may also get swollen hands for the same reason.
Put your feet up often and sleep on your left side. Try to avoid lying on your back as much as you can and don’t sit or stand in the same place for too long. Also, do not cross your legs at the knees and avoid clothing that is too tight. If the situation seems to persist or begins to get painful, inform your healthcare provider.
Due to the fact that you’re feeling a lot less sick and tired in this trimester, your mood for sex may return, and you may want to have it more often. It’s still safe to have sex during this period. Discuss with your partner about how you’re feeling.
The second trimester is the perfect time for you and your partner to get to bond with your baby and know it better. Your baby probably didn’t feel as human or close to you in the first trimester as it feels now. All of that will change when you begin to hear the heartbeat and feel the baby moving. Here are some of the things you can do with your partner during this time.
This is the final trimester, and it is a pretty interesting one. Here are some of the things you can expect to have happened by the end of the trimester.
1. Your baby should weigh about 3.5 kilograms by the end of the third trimester. That is approximately 7.5 pounds. It will also be 51 cm long, or 20 inches.
2. The baby’s skin, which was very wrinkled before, will become less so and the baby will gain some weight.
3. Your baby will be able to fully hear sounds at this stage, including the sound of your voice. Your baby will be able to recognize your voice long before it leaves the womb.
4. Your baby will move around and often kick, though not as much as in the second trimester.
5. Your baby is likely to slowly turn during this trimester and get into a head-down position.
6. Your baby’s head will grow hair.
7. Your baby’s organs, such as the lungs, brain, and others will continue to develop and will do so even after the baby is born.
8. Your baby will be able to respond to light.
9. Your baby’s sex organs will develop further during this stage.
You will likely develop stretch marks on your breasts and belly. These stretch marks are normal and are caused by the stretching of your kin due to weight gain. They might be a little itchy but not too much.
You get a cream or lotion for the itching but do not apply any of it on the nipples unless expressly recommended by your healthcare provider.
As you approach birth, your uterus may sometimes feel tight all of a sudden and then suddenly relax. These are pre-labor contractions, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions.
When you feel the contractions coming on, breathe deeply and relax. Walk around if you have to. If the contractions still don’t stop, contact your health care provider immediately.
You may feel cramps in your legs. Try to bend your ankle and point your toes in the general direction of your nose. This will help to stretch your leg. You can also put your feet up to ease up all that fluid that’s been collecting in your ankles. Make sure you’re getting a sufficient amount of calcium in your diet from foods like yogurt, tofu, and cheese. If the pain doesn’t go away, or your leg gets swollen, contact your healthcare provider.
You may feel a burning sensation in your chest and throat. This is known as heartburn and is as a result of the baby pressing on your stomach.
Try to avoid fried and spicy foods and drink plenty of fluids between your meals. You should also reduce the amount of fluids you take with meals. Also, try to eat more often, taking smaller portions at smaller intervals rather than larger portions at longer intervals. Maintain an upright posture after you’re done eating and ensure you have lots of pillows under your upper body and head when you sleep or lie down to rest. If the pain persists, talk to your healthcare provider.
Hemorrhoids are swellings that form around your anus or inside it. They can also come with some constipation. These are also caused by the baby pressing on your organs, in this case, the bowels.
Make sure to eat fiber-rich foods and drink plenty of fluids. Avoid sitting and standing for long periods of time and walk around whenever you get the opportunity. When sitting, put your feet up and do plenty of Kegels. You will have to avoid pushing too hard when having bowel movements, so the hemorrhoids don’t get worse. When sleeping, try to sleep on your left sides. You should also inform your healthcare provider about your experience.
There are times when you feel short of breath. The baby is pressing against your lungs as it grows and this is perfectly normal. As your trimester draws closer to the end, your baby will move lower into your abdomen, and it will be much easier to breathe.
Try to prop up your head when you sleep with two pillows or more to make breathing easier in your sleep. Wear loose clothing and maintain a straight posture while standing.
It is normal to feel anxiety about labor and birth giving as they draw closer. You may feel exhausted with your pregnancy and look forward to meeting your baby, wondering what the experience will be like. Get things ready for the birth of the baby as a way to distract yourself. You can also talk to your partner about how you feel and your health care provider to get advice.
You will feel the need to pass urine more often during this period. The urine might also leak when you cough, laugh or sneeze. This is because the growing baby is pressing on your bladder. This is normal. However, if passing urine hurts, or smells wrong, contact your healthcare provider. Also, keep doing Kegels.
Your interest in sex may or may not increase during this period. Both are okay and depend on the individual. Tal to your partner about how you feel and contact your health care provider if sex is too painful.
In each trimester as mentioned above you’ll experience discomfort along with many challenges. The information provided in this article is not intended to scare you but to inform and better prepare you. This is all part of a normal pregnancy. Even though you’ll experience a dramatic change over 40 weeks, your body and mind will adjust. Although, some days may be uncomfortable, try to enjoy the overall experience. A new and precious life is developing inside your body. It’s truly amazing! Don’t forget to see your doctor for regular check ups, it’s always best for you and your baby.
The third trimester is your last chance to start making final preparations for the arrival of your baby . Soon you will be giving birth to your baby and you will be the happiest and proudest mom in the world. As you prepare for that special moment, remember above all it is your responsibility to be prepared to protect, nurture and love your baby .
And there you have it, pregnancy week by week! The miracle of life in 40 weeks! Good luck!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you know how to help your child develop the best sleeping routine…